California Identity Theft Laws

The law in California regarding identity theft is slightly less severe as the overall federal law. If convicted, the perpetrator could spend up to $1000 in fines, and up to a year in jail. That is because many cases are considered a misdemeanor. Many other states require prison time for at least a year, if not longer, because they are counted as felonies. Regardless, there are still laws in place that prohibit the use of another person’s identity. California may up the charge to a felony if the crime is severe.

California Laws

Impersonation for the Purpose of Marriage - Code 528

No person shall impersonate another for the purpose of marriage. Anyone that falsifies their identity in order to obtain a marriage license and partake in a marriage ceremony under the false name is committing a felony.

Manufacturing and Selling of Records - 529.5

Purchasing, producing, selling, or otherwise obtaining the personal information of another, especially a birth certificate, is a crime punishable by law. Having a birth certificate, baptismal record, or other record of birth in possession, whether the person is alive or deceased, is at least a misdemeanor crime. A second statute applies to government issued identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID, that is falsified.

False Personation - 529.7

Assisting another person with obtaining records, including birth certificates and government issued IDs, that do not belong to them, is a punishable crime. They, too, can be given time of up to one year in jail, and a $1000 fine for their involvement.

Identity Theft - 530 and 530.5

Falsely impersonating another person in the hopes of receiving money, property, a credit line, medical information, or good and services is a punishable offense. It often results in both jail time and fees to the state. There must also be restitution paid to the impersonated person or entity.

Right to an Investigation and Court Hearing- 530.6(a and b)

Any victim who has had their identity stolen has the right to an investigation. He or she may contact the police and file a report regarding the circumstances. The victim also has a right to a court hearing in order to clear their true selves from the incident. This will allow them to continue to use their accounts as necessary and be relieved of the associated debts that the perpetrator developed.

Famous Cases

A few identity theft cases have already made their way out of California.

Woman Uses Beauty to Cheat Victims Out of Money

Maria Johnson, of Los Angeles, was held on a $2 million bail after being arrested at the hotel she was staying at. Johnson has presumably used her beauty in order to cheat victims out of their money. She had numerous convictions between the years of 1997 and 2008. These charges typically included identity theft and credit card fraud.

Johnson would use her beauty by creating profiles on dating websites and meeting up with men. She would then steal their information and use it to open credit card accounts. She even used home rental websites to commit her crime.

Not only would Johnson steal the initial person’s identity, but she would also use their information to impersonate their friends and family members, stealing their money as well. She lived in high-end hotels, lived a lavish lifestyle, and charged thousands of dollars to the cards she gained. She racked up more than $250,000 worth of debt on one case, and has had many others to date.

Over 6,000 Credit Cards Stolen By Postal Worker

Chinh Vuong worked as a postal worker for more than 20 years and was a beloved employee. During the year of 2015, he used his position to engage in a credit card scheme that would earn him luxury cars, handbags, and expensive watches. Many of these gifts were bestowed upon his wife. In just one year’s time, 6,200 credit cards were taken from the mail. Over $3 million was taken, often from American Express cards.

Vuong did not open card accounts himself. Instead, he sold the credit cards to identity thieves who would do the work. They would pay him a cash amount for the cards and then do with them what he pleased. He often sold them in sets, such as 11 cards for $500 or $5000 for 132 cards. He was earning roughly $6000 per month for the entire year of his scheme.

Aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit bank fraud were his two crimes. Vuong had two BMWs, Prada and Gucci handbags, a stainless steel watch, and much more that were seized from the home.

Resources

A number of resources are available in the state of California to assist victims of identity fraud.

Oag.ca.gov: The State of California Department of Justice is home to the office of the attorney general. Their website provides full details regarding identity theft in California and what people can do to prevent the theft from happening to them.

Criminaldefenselawyer.com: Victims involved with identity fraud can speak to a criminal defense lawyer about their situation. Many times, a lawyer is needed to help clear the victim’s name and prove they fell victim to a thief who stole their identity. A lawyer will also explain the identity theft laws in California and determine the best course of action for the situation.

Justice.gov: The United States Department of Justice offers information regarding identity theft and fraud. The crime is a federal offense that can be issued a felony if severe. Contact information is provided on the site for the Fraud Department.

Equifax.com: Equifax is one of the three credit reporting agencies. Victims can visit the site to obtain a credit report and find the debts that have been added by the identity thief. They can then use this report to dispute the charges.

Annualcreditreport.com: Rather than obtaining one report at a time through each of the reporting agencies, many turn to Annual Credit Report to receive a full report from all three agencies at once. They can then dispute the charges and get their scores back on track.